I gurantee you that there are lots of dissapointed people today. You would think that nobody could be dissapointed after christmas, but I gurantee you that there are plenty. And it is all about expectations.
When someone makes a christmas list, they are expecting every item on the list to appear under the tree that following christmas. And more often than not, that list will not be fufilled. And because the christmas did not live up to the list, it was considered dissapointing to the person who made the list.
My favorite part of christmas was never the actual opening of the gifts, but the night before. That mysterious, ominous feeling. It's like if you just had x-ray vision, you could see past the wrapping paper and into the box beneath. Because once you open the box, all the mystery is gone, and christmas is over. Sure, the toys are all fun, but you never really get that mystery back.
When we think of the future, our brain creates a perfect temporary world. In this world, people never slip, glass is unbreakable, and mistakes never happen. In this perfect world, emotions are perfect, everything is fufilled, and you get everything you want. However, this is nothing like the real world. In the real world, those boxes that are filled with gold and jewelry in your mind, are really filled with books or batteries.
When we think of the way we want things to go, when we make plans and lists, we are really creating expectations. Even if the party was lots of fun, the person who threw it is going to be dissapointed because the pizza man was late, or because the movie didn't work and another one had to be found. The party did not live up to the expectation, and was therefor considered a failure.
The trick is to expect the worst. When you plan a party, expect nobody to show up. Expect them to tell you "Screw off" when you invite them. Expect to need to call a hazmat team to clean up the aftermath. This way, you see the other side of the balance. When invite them, sure some will say "screw you", but there will at least be one person who says, "Sure, I'd love to come!" That is much better than what you expected. And when people do show up, that is more than you expected, and when the guests leave the rooms reasonably clean, that is again more than you expected. This way, what seems pessimistic, actually helps you. If you expect the worst, you will always be pleasantly surprised. And if everything does fail, you won't be dissapointed, because you expected it.
But even that doesn't always work. After a while, you just stop expecting things. It's not that you just give up, but that you stop creating these images of the future. You stop planning, and you stop making lists.
I'm writing this at 12:45, there is a tree full of presents upstairs, and I expect nothing. I have absolutely no clue as to what the boxes contain, because I didn't ask for anything. It could be anything from more raw cookie dough to a new quad-core processor for my computer. And no matter what they are, it's more than I have right now, so I'm happy. And if they're all full of crap I'll never use, then that just puts be right back where I am now. And you know what? I'm content with what I have right now.